THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM & CULTURE
Headed by AMBIKA SONI
The benefits of tourism are innumerable: it provides much-needed foreign exchange, indirect employment to millions of small traders and also bolsters transnational understanding. But effective tourism requires an effective plan. With that in mind, Ambika Soni launched the Incredible India ("!ndia") campaign. And what a success it has been!
The Incredible India brand has gone far and wide, becoming popular in Europe and the US and also East Asia and the Middle East. Promoting India as a major tourist attraction has yielded many benefits. Ambika Soni's successful campaign propped up the state economies of Goa and Rajasthan, which have now become International tourist spots.
It was also under Ambika Soni that the Taj mahal was declared one of the seven modern wonders of the world. her Ministry used this effectively, marketing the story of the ancient monument. Today, the Taj Mahal is not just a wonder of love but also of effective, dedicated marketing.
The Ministry was so dedicated to its work that it seized every opportunity to spread the India brand. One incident that comes to mind is the Big Brother controversy, where the racism-accused was invited to spend a few enlightening days in India through an ad in major dailies in London. This was surely a marketing coup: at a time when all of Britain was talking about India (or an Indian, Shilpa Shetty), the opportunity was just right to capitalise on it!
However, the ministry's downfall has been the issue of safety of tourists: deceiving traders still run the scene, while being raped in Goa (and not getting any justice) has become part of the experience. This single issue has been a major problem, although it goes beyond a single Ministry.
Overall, Ambika Soni's dedication has remained unquestionable. She has done a good job. Of course, lots more is still left to do: developing Nalanda as a Buddhist tourist attraction, in extension to India's Look East Policy, for example. But the work done by her in the last five years has laid the foundation for greater tourism in the future.
General Performace: Excellent